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All About Lamb

Lamb’s long history on Italian tables and high nutritional value (it’s low in all the bad fats and high in zinc and iron) means it’s a perfect complement to Bertolli® sauces and ready-made pasta dinners. So if you appreciate lamb’s unique flavor but think it’s only an occasional treat, let us show you how easy it is to make it a year-round addition to your recipe repertoire.

Lamb basics: Buying

A little know-how about lamb’s grades, cuts and origin can take some mystery out of the meat.

Grades: The USDA grades lamb the same way it grades beef: prime, choice and good. If you pay attention to the labels on the packages you’ll be off to a great start. Like beef, what separates lamb is the amount of fat in each grade, or its marbling. The more small white speckles throughout the meat the more flavor it will have ... but it will also have more fat. So as with most of our food-related decisions, your fat-over-flavor needs will likely influence which type you buy.

Cuts: Markets carry five main lamb cuts: leg, loin, rack, shoulder, and shank. But what most of us think of when we hear lamb, though, is the chop. Loin and rib chops are most tender; blade, arm and sirloin chops are all a little less expensive because they have more connective tissue than the first two, but they’re just as tasty. If a butcher is prepping your order of lamb or you’re buying it pre-packaged, make sure the meat is pink.

Cooking basics: Temperature and sauce.

Whether roasting, grilling or broiling, overcooking will ruin anything ... especially lamb. Experts recommend using an instant-read thermometer to ensure your meat is exactly where you want it: 145 degrees for medium-rare; 160 degrees for medium and 170 for well done.

But as important as properly cooking your lamb is properly pairing it with a sauce. Here are some hints:

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  • Italians don’t favor sweet, stoplight green mint jelly that’s oh-so-very English, but they will mince fresh mint and garlic, mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and crust on a roast before cooking.
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  • Up spaghetti’s ante with meatballs made with lamb, and serve with any of Bertolli® Red Sauces.